A Critical Evaluation of Research: The Facilitation Theory (the humanist approach)
The changing outlook of the field of teaching has shifted from didacticism towards facilitated learning, and this paradigm shift has come with the need, for teachers to take different roles and to use new techniques in teaching (Gregory, 2002). There are three models of teaching that have been developed: Socratic, didactic and facilitative. The diversity of the teaching model offers some degree of flexibility, which enables one to change the task of teaching – whether it is student-cantered or teacher-cantered. Jarvis (2006) views the practice of teaching as a science as well as an art. In doing that, one can complement the authoritarian didacticism approach with the outlook of a democratic facilitator, and then approach the teaching process without limiting the level of combinations. This paper will explore the facilitation theory of education, as applicable in education, particularly adult education.
Approaches to teaching
The lecture mode of teaching is the one, which is most frequently employed, despite the fact that it has been criticized over the years. The lecture model of teaching is an economical means of communicating factual knowledge and information to a large group of people, although it does not guarantee the communicator, that effective transmission or learning will take place (Walkin, 2000). The didactic model of teaching, mainly involves the practice of lecturing, and is fundamentally teacher-centered. Walkin (2000), further, insists that the lecture has remained a primary method of teaching in continuing and adult education. However, it has remained recognized as a useful tool for teaching, because it offers an outline of theories and ideas. However, it is necessary to complement it using interaction and adult-guided strategies, which can overcome the lack of participation and the vulnerability of the learner’s attention.
Didacticism comes along with a number of constraints, including rote learning, potential boredom, and learning by note taking, because the teaching model limits the participation of the learners and their ability to reflect on the subject of the lesson. Many traditional tutors are still using the lecture system as a model of teaching, especially when they are teaching subjects that are new to the larger number of the students. The lecture model is also used, many times, where the students are anxious, disorganized or dependent on the teacher for learning (Walkin, 2000).
Radical pedagogies have disputed traditional classroom practices, where the teacher is the source of information and knowledge and the student is the recipient of the new knowledge. Teaching is not viewed as the practice of imparting information and subjecting the student to different experiences, but it is conventionally, more inclined towards the process of facilitating self-directed learning (Tight, 1996, p. 26). As a trial to change the position, the teacher can employ vicarious learning models and problem-solving skills to theorize and articulate what they may already be knowledgeable about, in relation to the meaning of their interpretation and experiences (Preece & Griffin, 2002).
The sharing of experiences enables students to undertake structured reflection and to think critically, on the way the events can influence their personal knowledge and circumstances. This facilitative outlook towards teaching provokes previous learning and aids the learners in making sense of past experiences, with reference to real world events (Gregory, 2002). Experiential learning depicts the information science of the student, and is able to impact the processing of knowledge and the proposition of knowledge. By doing so, the lecturer creates a positive impact on the motivation, learning and the ability of the learners to become self-directive (Preece & Griffin, 2002).
To facilitate learning, lecturers must possess self-esteem, show confidence, and hold authority throughout the course of teaching. However, they should also be able to show compassion, remain flexible in the range and the outlook of teaching, while at the same time show respect for the different individuals. The lecturers should be allowed exposure to challenging situations and they should be challenged to develop relationships amongst themselves and the learners (Freeth & Parker, 2003). Towards becoming effective facilitators, tutors need to be knowledgeable and experienced in the academic attributes they develop in their students.
The qualities that are established in the relationship developed between the learners and the facilitators are very important. This focus on facilitating the learning of the students correlates with the humanistic approach towards learning, and it depicts a change from didactic exposition to the case of empowering the student to learn skills and theory. The role of the facilitator is the one that encourages the learners to engage critical thinking, intellectual analysis, describing experiences and problem solving, which help in challenging their learning (Gregory, 2002). Challenge is an area of facilitating learning that is proportionate to the outlook of transformation learning.
Different techniques of facilitation have been developed (Gilmartin, 2001). Poor learning facilitation can cause detrimental effects on the motivation levels of students, and reduce the morale and the confidence to achieve success in learning. The tutors that fall under this category are usually, not well equipped to undertake the necessary learning for facilitation, mainly because they may not acknowledge the professional restraints that are likely to affect the learning environment (Haith-Cooper, 2003). On the other hand, critical pedagogy is a highly facilitative model of learning facilitation, because it hands over the duty of leading to the learners, because they debate intuitive and engage their cognitive perceptions (Gilmartin, 2001). The features of this learning model are proportionate to the development of clinical reasoning skills and academic awareness among students, and harmonize with the characteristics of empowering students.
Despite the fact that the facilitation of learning serves the needs of the adult learner, to succeed under this approach, students will need theoretical aspect for comprehensive and effective learning, as well as the development of the necessary skills in clinical reasoning. Towards the realization of these areas of learning, students will need a compilation of academic support and learning materials – both areas are important, particularly when the discipline being studied is not familiar. In the event that these elements are not served, only surface learning will take place, and this kind of learning is mainly linked to the memorization of poorly understood theory (Marton & Saljo, 1997).
The Socratic model of teaching, similarly, emphasizes on adopting a student-centered teaching outlook and is very much opposed to didacticism. Brownhill (2002) demonstrates the ways that teachers can use an authoritarian or non-authoritarian teaching outlook, towards enhancing students to become critical thinkers and enhance their learning independency. Teachers deliver the initial theoretical model and position and then introduce the inconsistencies related, towards raising the awareness of students, pondering on major concepts and in initiating reflection. Both teaching models enhance the capability of learners to comprehend and reflect on positions.
Teaching scientific disciplines
For over a decade, the complexity of teaching scientific theory to nursing personnel has been questioned. Major areas of concern revolve around the differences in the comprehension levels of students, the unequal distribution of scientific and non-scientific areas of study within the curricular, and the persistent use teaching methods that are ineffective (Davies, Murphy & Jordan, 2000). The divide in the theory and practice seems wider, due to the inappropriate clinical application of the model and the outlook in general. The shortfall adds to the insufficient scientific preparation of nursing staffs and renders the workplace, highly incapable of expressing the importance of biological knowledge to clinical cases, or to communicate the scientific knowledge and the information required by patients and their relatives (Clancy, McVicar & Bird, 2000). Theoretical shortfalls in pharmacology are also evident, and they require the theoretical models that can encourage the improvement of teaching by educators of nursing (Banning, 2005).
From previous studies exploring the experience of participants in teaching, among independent nurses’ courses on prescription, findings show that knowledge transmission was the main strategy used for teaching, and little focus was channeled towards the application of the theoretical knowledge on practice (Gregory, 2002). Self-directed strategy techniques worked well as backup models, despite the fact that learners were offered little guidance and academic support. In such a situation, the academic engagement of learners was limited. The lectures given throughout the course required to incorporate process-inclined teaching techniques, including case analysis, problem solving, simulations for the facilitation of student learning and think aloud seminars, which enhance the scientific knowledge of prescriptions (Banning, 2005).
Teaching practical skills
For students taking vocational training, the skills they are being taught should be similar to the real tasks, despite the fact that some of the complications and the distractions of the real world are supposed to be eliminated, so as to lay the main skeleton of the skill, throughout the course of learning (Rogers, 1989, p. 49). In the case that the skills required to perform a given job are based on a selective basis, the skills are solidified and referenced as competencies, therefore, qualifying in them will be founded on areas of competencies (Rogers, 1989, p. 50). In order for a student to understand and acknowledge a given skill, it must be split into sub-parts, so that the learner can picture the relevance and the importance of the different parts. The learners should also be able to practice the skills required for the different sub-parts and develop a picture of the different components. Through practice, the learner reinforces the skills and the competencies required for the general practice of the given work (Rogers, 1989).
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